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Massage Today
March, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 03

The Evils of Money

By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB

Why do some massage therapists shun money? I've been fortunate to be on the table of some of the best therapists - ones who could work magic! In almost any other profession, these would be some of the wealthiest people in their communities, but they are simply "regular folk" who don't raise the eyebrows of the bank tellers when they make their deposits.

Why do so many massage therapists think that they can't raise rates, or that asking to be compensated for a missed appointment is so awful? Why don't they think it's okay to ask for more money if they've worked past the agreed-upon length of time?

Many young people are entering the profession now, some because of the "big money opportunity." They see a short amount of study time and jumping through a few hoops as the fast track to making $60, $75 or $100 per hour! Right! We all know the fallacy in that dream; a 40-hour week at our billable hourly rate just isn't possible. Most massage therapists I know dread doing six hours of actual massage per day, let alone eight. It's too much hard work for their bodies to sustain. Setting aside the reality of the numbers, what happens to people while in massage school that turns them from "show me the money" therapists into "this is a calling; wouldn't it be wonderful if money didn't get in the way" therapists or "I'm not worthy of accepting money for this practice" therapists? Many of us are afraid to demand compensation commensurate with the derived benefits of our patients and clients.

I was recently part of a panel discussion on practice building and the attainment of "success" by massage therapists. I was pleased to be on a panel of peers whom I admire for their abilities and accomplishments. While the discussion went in many different directions, one item kept repeating itself over and over: Massage therapists frequently fail to meet their practice and financial goals because they don't treat it as a business. They don't learn the skills to develop and execute a business plan. It's as though our ability to please has made us scared of money! A good friend of mine (who was also involved in the panel discussion) said he found this problem so prevalent that he has students in his workshops pass a $50 or $100 bill back and forth, and practice saying, "Thank you for the money!" The public is starting to catch on to how important we are to them! Isn't it time we caught up to what they already know? We are worthy! I love it now when I meet new people and tell them I am a massage therapist. I no longer get the wide-eyed stare or snicker. Now the typical response is, "Wow, that's neat!"

It's acceptable for therapists just out of school and not confident in their skills to charge less than the market price; however, those of us with track records of meeting client expectations should proudly hold our heads high as we share space with other businesses. People who get their hair done don't expect to get highlights for free; people dining out expect an occasional increase in menu price and to pay for the wine!

Why, then, should a client who arrives in discomfort leave with a free tube of BioFreeze, instead of buying it? Why should a client, who books for a relaxation massage and then mentions headaches and hip pain (which calls for us to draw upon more advanced skills and methods), expect to pay the same price? Likewise, a client who mentions shoulder or neck pain at the end of the massage and causes us to go over on time should pay an additional fee. Why do we think our businesses are any less worthy of profit than the ones we frequent on a daily basis? Money is nothing more than a medium exchange of energy. We don't "get" it; we "earn" it!

It's time we conducted a realistic self-analysis. We need to rethink our importance and our position, and what that means for the well being of society. I don't have the answers to all of the questions I've asked here, but I do know that massage therapists should be prospering more than they are. This year, after you have taken those continuing-education classes you have planned, invest in a business course "just for you!" I'm really looking forward to the day when that bank teller's eyebrows go way up!

Thanks for listening!

Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters relating to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue of Massage Today. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or by regular mail to:

Massage Today
P.O. Box 4139
Huntington Beach, CA 92605

Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.


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